Library launches local history resource
The Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System has launched a local history Web page, designed to provide members of the community with access to local history information and resources, both online and physical.
The Web page, www.heightslibrary.org/local-history, is the culmination of years of work that began in 2015, when the library created the local history librarian position to focus resources on preserving local history—especially the library’s, as it prepared for its 2016 centennial by digitizing its own organizational records, news articles and photographs.
“The library’s centennial gave us a logical place to start our local history collection work,” said Jessica Robinson, who took over the local history librarian position in 2017. “We collected and inventoried the physical items like meeting notes, newspaper articles, architectural drawings and photos, and digitized them. We also began interviewing former library directors and staff members to capture their knowledge of the library.”
Once the library’s history had been sufficiently documented, Robinson began curating more generalized local history resources to share with the community. The resources include websites for the Cuyahoga County auditor’s office; Cuyahoga County archives; the Cleveland Memory Project; the archives of the Cleveland Heights-University Heights City School District, also known as the Alvin Gray Archives; and physical collections at the Lee Road Library, such as city directories and reference copies of View from the Overlook, the newsletter of the Cleveland Heights Historical Society.
“All these resources already existed, but we’ve made them more accessible by organizing them on one page on our website,” said Robinson. “Part of the library’s mission is to not only provide information but to make that information easy to find.”
In addition to its online and physical reference materials, the library is also helping preserve community history by supporting the efforts of the Cleveland Heights Historical Society, City of Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission, and Cleveland Heights Historical Center at Superior Schoolhouse by hosting and promoting local history programs.
“The library’s local history page complements our mission of preserving and promoting the diverse character and traditions of Cleveland Heights,” said Ken Goldberg, president of the Cleveland Heights Historical Society. “We are also extremely grateful to library staff for setting up and maintaining a section of local history-related materials in an era when many libraries no longer feature even a general reference collection.”
Kara Hamley O’Donnell, historic preservation planner of the city of Cleveland Heights, agrees. “Since 2012, the City of Cleveland Heights Landmark Commission has valued our collaboration with the Cleveland Heights Historical Society and Heights Libraries,” she said. “This partnership permits us to share local history and preservation techniques through our biannual tour and lecture series, held each May and in the fall. The library’s dedication to sharing local history and expanding access to our community’s archival resources is an exciting step in sharing Cleveland Heights’ rich 100-plus-year history.”
More information can be found at www.heightslibrary.org/local-history.
Sheryl Banks is the communications manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.